Travel: Michigan Ice Fest

After all the running last year, I’m kinda marathoned out. To be honest, the sight of running shoes is enough to reignite the pre-ulcers from Gu overload, and to aggravate the permanent chafe scars in places innomable (french for “heck, don’t ask”).

So I’ve run out of running… at least for 2016.

Which means: *POOF*, around 20 hours/week of running training suddenly freed up. For me at least, the training is a respite from heavy the keyboard work, a re-centering. A necessary re-alignment. Without the stringent running schedule, the early part of 2016 involved drifting around like a sports Bedouin, aimlessly wandering from discipline to discipline, trying to find my oasis. My personal golden ratio is: for every 8-10 hours of heavy, ‘thinky’ work I need at least 1 hour of running, boxing, climbing, yoga, cycling, snowboarding, whatever. I require that “whatever”. Without it, sleep is like the elusive 7-minute mile, and cue the insomnia-induced blogging, anime marathon sessions, with a steady decline into daytime zombie/night-time web-crawler-cult-scifi-reader ‘what-the-heck-are-you-doing-on-facebook-at-3am’ guy.

Nope… need to train.

So I started messaging friends, asking about fun events.

Me: “Long time, no speak, how’s the climbing going? Anything fun on the calendar?”
Miri: “Hey, what are you up to next weekend? We’re going ice-climbing.”
Me: “Isn’t that dangerous?”
Miri: “No idea, but sounds like fun, right?”
Me: “I’m in! You had me at ‘next weekend’.”

Cue: Michigan Ice Fest!

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Honolulu + Kauai + Kalalau Trail

The only way to experience Hawaii 🙂

– Sam

Ethereal Beings

It’s not going to be relaxing and it’s not going to be normal … my last words before leaving in case anyone got any fancy ideas about me going to Hawaii for a vacation.

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Honolulu:
Arrive. No plan.
Sam searches for an uber sans luck.
Michelle walks over to the lone tourist bus,
“Hey, can I ask you sumpin’?”
“Wuts up?” says Nelly, a local bus driver no more than 25 years old.
Nelly, totally ghetto gangster with hushed expletives, tattoos ablaze from knuckles to neckline, new to professional bus driving stopped to say hi to friends, made the delay totally worth the people watch.
She hustles us all the way to Pensacola Street where we’re staying even though she was supposed to drop us in the hotel district at Ala Moana.
Her 2 year old girl just broke her collarbone also. I told her she’ll heal up in no…

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My Maranifesto: The Game of Running

Everyone writes books on running. If you run (maybe a little, maybe a lot), you write about it (maybe a little, maybe a lot). I think at some point these running books gain critical mass, and become more than the sum of their pages. Why? Because if you run (maybe a little, maybe a lot), your probably read (maybe a little, maybe a lot).

I love imagining the emergent properties of things, as though you observed it strictly from its behaviour, and don’t understand its innate nature. Running books would have a great story. In the beginning there may have been one or two running books, little critters cowering in the corner of the sports section, thin and emaciated, travelling alone. Then the running book-beast, by all observations, began to multiple at a geometric rate. At some point they gained critical mass – a Phillip Ball phase change, no doubt. They began travelling in herds, swarming across the great plains of bookstores.

The humans continued picking at their masses, but they only grew more – the progeny of word of mouth. They began flocking into your bedroom, lying passively supine, waiting for you to gorge on their dietary suggestions, training regimes, and introspections. Now, few bedside tables have gone untouched, the running book-beast as ubiquitous as its domesticated distant cousin, the post-thanksgiving diet book.

By some groups, it has gained almost religious status, with rituals and doctrines that indicate (again solely by observation) that this animal is almost sacrosanct. ‘Coming of age’ rituals develop between the runners and the book-beasts, e.g. when a running group leader ‘borrows’ a dog-eared, coffee-stained, beast to a neophyte runner uttering sacred words such as “…oh you don’t know about fartleks? This is a great book on it which will help you set up a training regime using fartleks to increase your pace.”

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Travel: Rock Climbing in Monterrey

It’s September, I’m sitting on a plane to Cape Town, and all I can think about is setting up my next climb in Monterrey. With the wanderlust nearly satiated (marathon season all booked), it’s strange that I can’t get climbing out of my head… I should be panicking about the next three months of “long-run (bitch+moan) Sundays”… but El Potrero Chico is really that good. In April earlier this year, I took an impromptu trip to Monterrey to get away from the dreary Chicago winter, and I’m feeling now it will have to become a tradition.

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I think that’s an appropriate response… It’s almost anticlimactic after the stories I remember hearing from other El Potrero climbers over caguamas (32 oz. beer bottles) in the local restaurant.

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Chicago, Illinois to Cusco, Peru by Bicycle?

For the last two years I’ve been using a bicycle as a primary form of transport… By primary, I mean that I either cycle, walk, or catch a taxi. (As a bynote: I’m not an eccentric tree-hugger, I could buy a car if I needed to, but there is a long story behind the bicycle. At some point I’ll post the rambling, yawn-inducing article on it.) However, since adopting a bicycle to get around, I’ve been suffering from a recurring, nagging question – given that I only have a bicycle, how far could I possibly go on it?

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Cities

I truly love cities.

Specifically, I love sitting atop a building on the eve of a shiny new day, drinking up the fumes from a pilfered cigarette and the acrid bite of a filter coffee, feeling the hum of the beautiful machine under my scuffed converse sneakers. Imagining the millions of people just beginning to leave their homes, each on their own unique crusade, but each adding to this incredible construction that we dub society.

Although I’m always alone at these moments, I can almost feel tangible threads, blazing and lustrous, snaking from the soles of my sneakers down the chrome super-structure into the buildings and homes below, inextricably tethering me to every single one of these other individuals. I can almost taste the incredible plethora of their hallowed hopes, the paralysing flame of their fears, the carnal pulsation of their desires.

It doesn’t matter in which city I stand, clutching my brew and puffing on my cancer stick – illustrious New York, vibrant Hong Kong, bustling Sydney, or even cosmopolitan Cape Town. I’ve drank in each of their morning sunrises and in each felt the strands of the synchronicity binding us.

With these beautiful ties to the rest of the world, how is it possible that anyone can feel alone?

(…Just a thought)

– Sam